Formed in 1898, Spring Lake Golf Club operated a 9-hole course up until a new 18-hole George C. Thomas Jr. layout arrived in 1911. A. W. Tillinghast substantially modified the course seven years later and this is the one that’s largely still in play today.
Being located in Monmouth County can prove to be a tough locale to get attention when the golf aisle is loaded with a number of worthy courses. Spring Lake bears the fingerprints of George Thomas before he headed west and all the rightful fanfare for his efforts at LACC, Riviera and Bel-Air.
Spring Lake is not at that caliber; however, the course layout was updated not long after its opening by A.W. Tillinghast.
Amazingly, although the layout is nearby to the Jersey Shore and features relatively flat land the routing and overall bunker work is done quite well. These elements provide the character that makes Spring Lake a fun layout to play. Some may find the terminology of "a good member's course" to be a pejorative but that's far from the case at Spring Lake.
Of special interest is the turning points found on a few of the holes -- mainly on the front side. The short par-4 5th and 7th are good examples. There's enough movement and angles provided so that sound placements win the day -- not brawn alone. Those who simply look at the total length of the course may find that such ignorant tunnel vision will have one's golf pockets picked because of that lack of respect.
The key thing is Spring Lake wisely made sure its core qualities would not be eradicated. Sad to say, but far too many clubs sought improvements to be "championship courses" and the resulting hodge-podge results simply caused more issues needing an expensive overhaul down the pike.
What a thrill to play such attention-grabbing mid-length par-4s to conclude the round. The penultimate hole is blessed with a majestic fairway bunker that protects the left side and the tapering in of the fairway is quite devilish in taming the wild impulses of those who fail to pay heed. The concluding hole rounds out the day nicely -- another mid-length par-4 where placement on the left side is a must for the optimum approach angle over a fronting creek.
M. James Ward
Spring Lake is a very welcoming club and is a joy to play. It's the type of course you could see yourself playing every day. The conditioning is excellent and there is a good variety of holes. The rough isn't penal so you can stray some and find it and continue on. It is well worth a visit if you get an invite. The green contours are easily read and there are some good slopes on a few greens.